Friday Feature: A to Z of the Tour de France

A = Alpe d’Huez. The legendary Alpine climb with its 21 hairpin turns will be climbed twice in one day for the first time in Tour history this year. (It has appeared twice in the same Tour once before, in 1979.) It last appeared in 2011, when Europcar’s Pierre Rolland won the stage. Continue reading

10 Wishes: Maff Felstead

Maff Felstead is a film editor at Loaded Dice in London but lives in Bishops Stortford, has been riding off and on for about 30 years and takes great pleasure in giving Kitty Fondue a hard time when she’s live-tweeting races for VeloVoices. He is also the founder member and chief blogger of Team Shake’n’Bake, the best cycling team you’ve never heard of. He loves cycling, boxing, American football, his wife and kids, Moam stripes, fig rolls and weekend bike rides. Last year he rode from London to Paris, this year he’s riding from Paris to Geneva (he’s training as we speak!) Here are his ten wishes.

1. Geraint Thomas wins a classic

2013 is surely the year when the chirpy faced Welshman steps out from Wiggins and Cavendish’s shadows and announces himself as a road cyclist to be reckoned with. He won the Junior Paris-Roubaix in 2004, Bayern-Rundfahrt in 2011 and was the British National Champion in 2010 so he has it in him. It’s time for Brailsford and his marginal gains to focus on Geraint.

2. A proper Tour de France drama

I’m not talking about ‘Schleck/Contador Chaingate’ or ‘Thomas Voeckler cycles through someone’s garden’ sort of drama. I’m talking about ‘Lemond/Fignon never more than a minute apart, eight-second gap, Champs-Elysees’ drama! Much as I loved seeing Sky control the Tour last year, it was only because Wiggins was the benefactor. Let’s have some proper racing please, not another yawnathon.

3. Cav to go second on the all-time Tour de France stage winners list

I love Mark Cavendish. I love his totally non-British “winning is all that matters” mentality. There is no finer sight in racing than Cav leaving the field for dead in a sprint finish.

The 2012 Tour wasn’t the same without it. This year, I’d like to see him cement his place as the greatest sprinter in history by overtaking Hinault and notching up 29 wins. I’d really like him to surpass everyone and go to the top of the list but I think 11 stage wins is too much even for Cav. I’ll save that for my 2014 wish list.

4. Better coverage of women’s cycling

The women’s Olympic road race proved that it’s not who’s on the bike that matters, it’s how they ride it. Marianne Vos and Lizzie Armitstead proved that female riders are every bit as aggressive and explosive as the men yet they just don’t get the exposure – in the press or on television. Better coverage would also double the amount of cycling on our screens and can that ever be a bad thing?

5. A higher profile for the Tour of Britain

Britain is in the middle of a cycling boom, so now’s the time to raise the profile of Tour of Britain from ‘colourful little sideshow’ to our own version of the Tour de France. Towns should turn stage starts into carnivals, the parcours should get even more challenging so top-end continental talent will turn up to race, not to wave at the crowds like royalty. Let’s make it happen!

6. Search and Rescue find Renshaw and reunite him with Cav

Ring ring! “G’day, Mark Renshaw speaking.”

“Mark, it’s Cav. Just wondered if you’d enjoyed your gap year and were ready to get back to pro bike riding? I’ve just had a year carrying bottles around and cycling on my own and I’m bursting to get out there and race again but it’s just not the same without you. Plus there’s this kid call Sagan who fancies himself a bit and you might need to stick the nut on him if he proves troublesome.”

“I’ll be right over, mate!”

7. BMC gives us back our God of Thunder

Thor Hushovd is my kind of rider. He can do this:

And I for one would like to see him do it a whole lot more in 2013. Enough of this ‘virus and muscle inflammation’ malarkey. Let’s have Thor back in the peloton eating up tarmac like it’s made of energy bars. [Watch this just for the commentators! No idea what they’re saying but they’re hilarious – Ed.]

8. Peter Sagan, Peter Sagan and more Peter Sagan

More than any other rider I think Sagan represents the golden era of cycling. The Merckx spirit of start-to-finish riding. Sprint finishes, one-day Classics, mountain stages, hill finishes, if Sagan fancies it he’ll give it a go. He won the Slovak cup on his sister’s bike – a supermarket bike with bad brakes and reduced gearing. Fingers crossed Cannondale give him free rein in 2013 because I would love to see him having a go at everything – Paris-Roubaix on a penny farthing, Tour de France on a unicycle … with Sagan you just never know.

9. Joaquim Rodriguez wins

Il Purito got his nickname by proving he can climb. He can climb as well as if not better than Contador. If he’d read Cycling Tactics for Dummies he’d have won the Vuelta this year instead of Contador. Hopefully someone has bought him the book for Christmas and we will see him fulfil his potential and win one of the big ones. [If he gets himself on a WorldTour team, that is! – Ed]

10. Drug-free year

We manage to go through a whole year of cycling with people talking about the riders, the riding and the racing without any mention of drugs. With Lance and his LiveWrong drama continuing to loom large, there is very little chance of it happening but we can hope.

10 wishes for 2013

Kitty Fondue

Kiss My Panache

Sheree Whatley

Ant Beal

Tim Liew

Velocast’s Scott O’Raw